UMass Grad Gives Talk on Informatics and Symptom Self-Management

Nov 29, 2017
Fall Seminar Series Talk on November 28, 2017

On Tuesday, November 29th, Dr. Kavita Radhakrishnan presented her talk “Making Sense of Self-Management Behavior Data: How Can Informatics Tools Help?” to more than 25 people. The talk was part of the Fall Seminar Series sponsored by the UManage Center for Building the Science of Symptom Self-Management.


An Accelerated BS in Nursing and PhD graduate of the UMass Amherst College of Nursing, Dr. Radhakrishnan is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Her current research focuses on the use of technology such as telehealth and digital games to engage older adult patients with chronic disease self-management.


In her talk, Radhakrishnan discussed how technology can be useful in symptom self-management, how to analyze the data gathered by technology, and how to put that information to work to create healthier communities.


Radhakrishnan said that the use of personalized health monitoring devices is increasing and patients are more willing to use technology to monitor their health. The problem, however, is that this data is not always being put to good use, as clinicians are often overwhelmed by its volume. “Data is like an iceberg – not all of the information is analyzed,” she said.


To help data become more accessible Radhakrishnan has come up with ways to make it more visual so that patterns become apparent quickly. Radhakrishnan called for more interdisciplinary work to create better and more advanced ways to display data visually, and called for more electronic health records systems to accept data from personalized health monitoring devices. She also cited examples of geospatial data and data gathered from social media helping public health workers understand patterns and predict general health outcomes.


Radhakrishnan says nurses can contribute to interdisciplinary teams developing technology because they know how the technology will be used. “Human factors determine the success of technology like telehealth,” she said.


Even with all of the opportunity for technological growth, Radhakrishnan emphasized that technology will not be able to fix social justice issues. For example, if someone needs more physical activity but does not have access to a gym or open space, an activity tracker will not help make them more active. These issues need to be addressed by nurses and policy-makers as technology develops, she said.